City council’s lack of action on youth shelter disappoints former colleague

Rosemary Wallace said she’d hoped for an offer to help students, even in form of a letter

Langley school trustee and former City of Langley council member Rosemary Wallace said she is disappointed by the lack of action from council on the issue of youth homelessness, following a recent presentation from a group of students who want to see a homeless shelter for youth built in the community.

Langley school trustee Rosemary Wallace is expressing disappointment with her former colleagues in Langley City after a youth task force spoke to them about the need for a youth homeless shelter.

“There is a group of youth working so hard behind the scenes to bring attention to the lack of a youth shelter in Langley and I’m a bit disappointed in City council,” said Wallace at the last board of education meeting.

Wallace is a former councillor with the City, who left to run for her seat as a school trustee. She said she sat in the audience at the City’s April 25 council meeting where members of the youth task force spoke to council about the need for a youth shelter.

Wallace said her disappointment stemmed from the lack of action on council’s part following the presentation.

“It is important to stand by our youth when our youth start speaking for their peers,” she said. “City council could have offered to write a letter to the provincial government.”

The students who make up the task force come together from various schools to bring awareness about the lack of safe housing for  teenagers in Langley who have nowhere to go some nights.

The nearest shelters are in Abbotsford and Surrey. Youth services and the task force are hoping for a shelter with six to eight beds.

The students have already held one conversation cafe that was attended by more than 100 people last month.

Their research points to more than 160 teens who were homeless last year.

In fact, according to Encompass youth services and outreach worker Fraser Holland, the largest increase in homeless is among youth and seniors — the two most vulnerable populations.

The City tabled its much anticipated homelessness task force recommendations. Among those recommendations, asking federal and provincial governments to fund a youth homeless shelter is one of them. But the City said funding must come for upper levels of government because the shelter would have to be staffed 24/7, said task force chair Gayle Martin.

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